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A Quick Roundup of Reactions to “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”

8:01 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I was encouraged by Harriet Baskas, a travel writer from MSNBC, to watch “Sarah Palin’s Alaska on TLC (The Leering Channel) yesterday evening.  I missed the first six minutes because of a phone call, but managed to take in most of the rest.  Afterward, I wrote a short post for my blog.  Then I helped my wife get prepared for another week’s work mentoring first- and second-year teachers in the Alaska Bush, flying in small planes out to village schools in Native communities thousands of years old.

My observations were mostly mirrored at other blogs or in post-show news stories:  The scenery is spectacular, Todd appears perpetually annoyed, the kids are props, she would not be one of my rock climbing partners more than once, author Joe McGinniss – their next-door-neighbor last summer – has been slandered, and, and – that ghastly, screechy, cat claws-on-glass voice!

Here’s my rock climbing take:

The rock climbing episode was simply awful. I can sympathise with Sarah that the first step for a beginner is really, really hard, but most tyro climbers quickly realize how much energy it takes within a few vertical moves, how one can take advantage of staying close to the rock face, and how isometric the whole exercise is.

She kept on leaning outward and whining. Her pants seemed to restrict lateral moves of her legs, which wasn’t her fault. But her whining and self pitying was horrid. (I used to rock climb – 5.7 – 5.8-ish level)

The rock climbing episode was simply awful. I can sympathise with Sarah that the first step for a beginner is really, really hard, but most tyro climbers quickly realize how much energy it takes within a few vertical moves, how one can take advantage of staying close to the rock face, and how isometric the whole exercise is.

She kept on leaning outward and whining. Her pants seemed to restrict lateral moves of her legs, which wasn’t her fault. But her whining and self pitying was horrid. (I used to rock climb – 5.7 – 5.8-ish level)

Gawker posted an article with visual aids, titled The Five Most Ridiculous Moments from Sarah Palin’s Alaska Premiere:

5) Is Rock Climbin’ Hard? You Betcha!

4) The Requisite “Mama Grizzly” Reference

Palin watched two grizzly bears go at it—and then related it to herself and made a veiled political reference, obviously.

3) (Border) Fence Talk

Palin lamented the fact that a reporter moved in next door. Worse, this guy is writing a “hit piece” on her! So, Todd built a 14-foot fence to keep him away—and Palin thinks the rest of the country should do the same (to keep out illegal immigrants!)

2) Like Bristol, Like Willow

Palin’s daughter, Willow, had a boy over. Willow and the boy tried to go upstairs together, and Palin didn’t like this.

1) The Theme Song.

The comments at the Gawker article contain gems such as this:

A better view of the fence [with a photo of Todd's monstrosity], it’s beyond me why anyone would listen to this band of twits when they apparently can’t even be trusted to build a fence that doesn’t look fucking stupid.

Maia Nolan, arts & entertainment wonk at The Alaska Dispatch wrote a long article as she watched.  My favorite line:

After the Fox News interview, the family piles into a motorhome and cruises up the highway toward Denali National Park. Here is perhaps the most major difference between Sarah Palin’s Alaska and Maia Nolan’s Alaska: Members of the Palin and Heath families ride unsecured in the back of the motorhome, lounging on couches, getting up and walking around. That would have been heaven for us as kids. But in Maia Nolan’s Alaska, Dad the fishing guide was also Dad the paramedic, who would have been as likely to feed his children paint chips as to put them in a moving vehicle without seat belts.

Alaska blogger Jesse Griffin wrote about the series premiere at The Immoral Minority. His post centers on the Palins’ (and TLC‘s) trashing of McGinniss:

The fact that Palin uses this new program to deliver a little payback to the author who dared to cast his shadow on Casa de Palin, should come as no surprise to anybody who read “Going Rogue”, which essentially reads like one long Bitch-a-Palooza about everybody who Sister Sarah believes did her wrong.

However in THIS case Sarah and TLC were both warned by the author’s lawyer to remove ALL images of Joe McGinniss, pixelated or not, from the program or face possible legal proceedings.

As you can see from the CBS report above, neither Palin nor TLC took that warning seriously.

Perhaps this time Grizzled Mama will find that it is much harder to bully people people once they move thousands of miles away from Wasilla.

Living in Wasilla, as I do, I can attest that some of us are certainly not intimidated.

The UK Guardian (!) live blogged the episode:

9:06pm ET / 2.06am GMT: Sarah likes to do her “researching” on the porch, looking at the lake. She’s possibly looking for Russia because she doesn’t seem to have any papers in front of her.

9:08pm ET / 2.08am GMT: Sarah and the slightly scary Todd are bitching about the reporter who rented a house next door to them. Todd built a 14ft fence: “This is what we need to secure our nation’s border”, says Sarah. “How would you feel if some dude who was out to getcha was 15ft away from your kids,” she wails. Aww, so protective of her kids! Admittedly she is complaining to a reality TV crew who are following around her teenage daughters and their boyfriends. But that’s totally different.

9:10pm ET / 2.10am GMT: My sofa companion asks: “Isn’t it strange that Palin’s first real attempt to show her suitability as a presidential candidate is, not to bone up on foreign policy or reinstate herself as governor of Alaska, but to be on a reality TV show?” Yeah, well, he’s an east coast elite. What can you expect? He doesn’t understand the Real People.

9:13pm ET / 2.13am GMT: Ooh now we’re seeing the raftin’ Palins approaching a bear fishing, just to prove how down with nature. Unfortunately, they were criticised yesterday by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance for breaking rules and getting too close to bears. But “rules” is just another word for “big government trying to control the real people and turn them all into communists and send them to death panels”, of course.

9:16pm ET / 2.16am GMT: “This is so cool” giggles Sarah as the bear that they’re harassing splashes about miserably in the water. “A lot of time they want you out of their territory,” she says, as ignorant of irony as ever.

The European blog, Palingates, carried a guest post by a woman who watched the episode with her 7-year-old daughter, Bella:

Todd, Sarah and Willow hop in a bush plane to head up to Ruth Glacier. The weather is too bad, so they are forced to turn back. When it is time to try again the following day, Willow says her back hurts and she is staying home. Sarah and Todd head out alone. Willow, no doubt, immediately calls Andy and they go upstairs. Meanwhile, out on Ruth Glacier, Sarah has to step over 100-foot deep crevasses so she doesn’t fall to the center of the earth. She whines and whines about how hard it is to climb a rock face, but that she Will. Not. Quit. Because she is NOT A QUITTER, doncha know?! Todd has a look on his face that says he is just repeating this over and over inside his head: “20 million dollars, 20 million dollars, 20 million dollars.” Then, out of nowhere, he says, “let’s go, juicy.” Yes — he calls her juicy. I don’t even want to know. Bella is bored by this scene. She says, “mom, why do you keep rolling your eyes?” I tell her I’m annoyed with Sarah. She says, “yah, she doesn’t seem very nice.”

Sarah has now faced death three times in this episode (bears, crevasses, scaling a rock wall), and all three times, she won. They make it to the top. The episode ends with Sarah saying, “how are we going to get back down?” I wonder, “how will I make it through 7 more episodes?”

“Well, that’s it,” I say. Bella says, “Mom, I have a joke for you. Why is Sarah Palin from Alaska?” Why, I say? “Because she is so cold.”

I’m not sure I could have said it better.

Nor could I.

Joe Miller Invokes East Germany as Security Model, Then Has Blog Editor Arrested by Thugs

11:10 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

At a town hall meeting Sunday afternoon(1) in Anchorage, U.S. Senate campaign GOP nominee Joe Miller was asked a long question on how we should keep illegal immigrants out.

His short answer: "If East Germany can do it, we can do it!"

After the meeting, Miller was approached by Tony Hopfinger, an award-winning journalist and editor of the on-line news source, The Alaska Dispatch. Here’s what happened next:

Hopfinger, who had learned at the last minute of Miller’s planned appearance at the public school, ducked into a hallway after the meeting to pose his own questions to Miller.

Hopfinger had been trying to ask Miller questions when two or three guards told him to leave or risk being charged with trespassing.

When Hopfinger continued to try to ask questions, one of the guards put the reporter in an arm-bar and then handcuffed him.

Hopfinger was released after police arrived.

The reporter was on public property where a public event was being held at the time of the incident.

Here’s KTUU TV’s early print coverage:

According to Hopfinger, Miller’s security team pushed him and he pushed back because he felt his personal space was being invaded. He says guards detained him and accused him of trespassing, although the town hall was a public event held at a public building.

Miller security guard William Fulton said in a statement Sunday that he was responding to Hopfinger’s actions.

“The Dispatch reporter repeatedly pushed a camera into the face of Mr. Miller,” Fulton said. “He continued to aggressively pursue him. I told the reporter several times that he needed to stop and that he was trespassing, he ignored me. He then proceeded to stalk Mr. Miller and even shoved an individual into a locker. Based upon this trespass and his assault, we detained him and escorted him from the premises.”

Hopfinger says he waited for about half an hour in handcuffs for police to show up. No arrests have been made and no charges have been filed.

Last Monday, under increasing pressure from the Alaska press to release more details of why his employment as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) ended in controversy, Miller scheduled, canceled, then rescheduled a press conference(2). At that event, Miller closed, stating:

We’ve drawn a line in the sand. You can ask me about background, you can ask about personal issues — I’m not going to answer. I’m not.

During this past week, press hostility toward Miller understandably grew. As a result of Miller’s refusal to sign a release allowing the FNSB to release his employment records, the former mayor of Fairbanks, Republican Jim Whitaker made a public statement(3) on Miller’s job performance there:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller was nearly fired from his job as a borough attorney in 2008 after using borough computers in an attempt to oust the chairman of the Republican Party of Alaska, former borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said Wednesday.

Whitaker said Miller’s actions violated the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s ethics policy but did not result in a termination because the borough needed Miller to continue working on its lawsuit about how much to tax the trans-Alaska pipeline system.

Miller eventually resigned from borough employment on Sept. 1, 2009. “I’m speaking now because this occurred on my watch as mayor, because I know the truth, and because I have an obligation to tell the truth,” Whitaker said in an interview with the Daily News-Miner.

He said that, as a former mayor, he would prefer not to be involved in “the political melee.” “I also felt it was appropriate to give Mr. Miller enough time to come forward himself,” Whitaker said. “It’s clear with his statements of the other day, he’s not going to do that.

That was Wednesday. Alaska legal blogger, Wickersham’s Conscience made a case that Whitaker’s information indicates Miller engaged in criminal activity in his abuse of co-workers’ computers:

So Miller was allegedly was using other folks’ computers, without their permission or knowledge, so he could pretend to be sending votes by someone else in the contest for Republican Party State Chair. He is alleged to have been stuffing the electronic ballot box, using Borough computers. Alaska’s criminal laws have something to say about this.

WC goes on to list the felony statutes Miller appeared to have violated. The Miller campaign was quick to deny that Miller had done anything wrong. On Late Thursday, Miller’s dad, Rex, sent out an email that leaked out through the Tea Party Express grapevine by Friday. In it, Rex Miller asserted that what his son told him he had done with the computers was different from what former mayor Whitaker had described:

One noon hour, on his own time at the borough, Joe participated in an online poll voting against Randy,” Rostad wrote in the e-mail, recounting the Thursday morning conversation he said he had with Rex Miller. “He used four office computers in the office to do it, thinking this was his chance to boost numbers to get rid of Randy. He emptied the cache files on the computers so the users wouldn’t know what he had done.

Here’s WC‘s response to Rex:

WC is glad that Miller committed his felonies on his lunch hour and not on the Borough clock. However, it’s irrelevant to the real issue. Note that Joe Miller wiped the computers’ cache files afterwards. That’s the one of the places where a computer user leaves “digital fingerprints” of what he or she has done. (Not the only one, Joe.) And that’s very good evidence that Miller knew what he was doing was wrong. He was attempting to conceal the fact a crime had taken place. He was trying to wipe the fingerprints off of the crime scene. That’s certainly evidence he knew he’d done something criminal. Oh,and that’s a separate crime, by the way. Tampering with Evidence, AS 11.56.610, and possibly Tampering with a Public Record, AS 11.56.820.

Polls are being taken over the weekend. I was polled yesterday, and two friends relate that they were polled yesterday and today by firms that asked different questions from those I was asked. The late week Rasmussen Poll, showing Miller at 35%, Lisa Murkowski at 34% and Democrat Scott McAdams at 27% (plus or minus 4.5%) shows a very close race, with McAdams making his biggest jump since the race has been polled.

This race will continue to tighten. Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Ethan Berkowitz, in a statement issued as I’m writing, has asked Gov. Sean Parnell to look more closely at Miller:

Ethan Berkowitz had a strong reaction upon hearing the news that Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger was detained and handcuffed by a private security force hired by Senate candidate Joe Miller.

Berkowitz said, "In this country, journalists have a job to do, which includes exercising their rights and responsibilities under the First Amendment. A free press means that journalists must work without fear of muscle or muzzle.

"The fact that this was a private security guard hired by a U.S. Senate candidate in the heat of a political campaign makes this story even more outrageous. The actions of Mr. Miller’s agents against Mr. Hopfinger must be investigated and prosecuted by the State for violation of criminal statutes."

Berkowitz continued, "Even though Sean Parnell continues to stand behind Joe Miller, I call on him to follow my lead and condemn the Miller campaign for its chilling attack on a free press. That behavior has no place in Alaska, or in any free, representative democracy."

Berkowitz has been pounding Parnell on many issues and that race is tightening up quickly too. Late Friday, Republican Republican Bill Walker, who lost to Parnell in the GOP primary endorsed Berkowitz. Walker has many fierce advocates from the center and from the faction of the GOP that never liked Sarah Palin. Sean Parnell is derisively called "SP version two point zero" by many Republicans, mimicking GOP Rep. Don Young’s categorization of Parnell, for his blandness, as "Captain Zero." In the primary, here’s the way the votes broke down:

Sean Parnell (R) ————– 54,125
Bill Walker (R) ————— 35,734
Ethan Berkowitz (D) ——— 22,607
Hollis French (D) ————- 18,018

Both Walker and French have endorsed Berkowitz, and only polling conducted this coming week will reflect whether Walker’s embrace of Berkowitz will help significantly.

Update: The first video has emerged. It doesn’t show much, but Miller’s assertion that Hopfinger was violent doesn’t appear to hold any water:

_____

(1) See also "Miller town hall in Anchorage Sunday," http://community.adn.com/node/153735

(2) See also "Miller Refuses to Answer Any More Personal Questions," http://aprn.org/2010/10/11/alaska-news-nightly-october-11-2010/

(3) See also "Former mayor: Miller ‘not truthful’ about borough employment," http://www.ktva.com/topalaskanews/ci_16330640

Alaska Senate Candidate Miller Announces, Cancels, then Holds Press Conference Where He Refuses to Answer Any Questions

3:40 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In what may be the first solid signs of a U.S. Senatorial campaign about to go off the rails, Tea Bag Express star, Sarah Palin favorite, and GOP primary nominee Joe Miller, went through a bizarre set of moves in Anchorage early Monday. Miller scheduled an 11:00 a.m. press conference. Then he cancelled it. Then he participated in an 11:45 a.m. senatorial campaign forum, held by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Then, he did this:

Update, 1:55 p.m.: Republican nominee Joe Miller just told reporters that he will not be answering any more questions about his personal background for the remainder of the campaign.

He made the statement at an impromptu news conference after today’s debate at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. He took no questions and immediately walked out of the room.

Early Monday morning, the Alaska Dispatch announced it has filed suit against the Fairbanks-North Star Borough, to gain access to Miller’s complete personnel file for the period when he worked as an attorney for the borough:

Alaska Dispatch sued the Fairbanks North Star Borough on Monday for the release of U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s employment records. The suit comes after accusations that Miller was politicking on borough time.

Miller worked as a part-time attorney for the borough for seven years until his resignation in fall 2009. In the months since announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, questions have been raised about whether Miller resigned to avoid being fired, and more recently, about whether he once used borough computers for his own political activities.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity told Alaska Dispatch that Miller was caught using borough equipment in an attempt to unseat Alaska GOP party chair Randy Ruedrich. The Miller campaign has neither denied nor confirmed the claim. A press conference was reportedly set for 11 a.m. Monday to address Miller’s past employment with the borough; however, a spokesman for Miller said the campaign had decided not to hold a conference before Monday’s noon Anchorage Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum but might speak with reporters afterward.

The activity Miller is accused of is similar to what got Ruedrich in trouble in 2003 when it was brought to light that he was using state computers and e-mail to conduct Republican party business while working for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. His then-co-worker Sarah Palin blew the whistle on Ruedrich’s activities, and he ended up paying a $12,000 state ethics fine. Palin is a strong Miller supporter, as is the Tea Party Express.

There is a lot of speculation about other reasons Miller might be uncomfortable with materials in his personnel jacket. As reported this morning by The Immoral Minority:

Well I certainly hope "other issues will be covered as well" because the voters of this state have a lot of questions.

Such as:

"Why did you only serve three years of active duty after leaving West Point when the requirement is five years of service?"

"You told Phil Munger that you were a seriously disabled veteran. What is the nature of your disability and do you collect disability compensation from the military?"

"You have advocated cutting federal spending which includes having Alaska refuse federal dollars. Since one third of our economy is based on those federal dollars how would you replace them? And are you considering reinstituting state income taxes, which we currently do not pay, to cover that loss?"

"And finally how do you get your beard length to say halfway between pre-adolescent teenage boy and a real Alaskan man’s facial hair? Do you suffer from a hormonal imbalance perhaps? Or is THAT the ‘serious disability’ that you told Phil about?"

Snark aside, and teasing aside, Miller’s refusal to even answer questions on why he won’t be answering questions is very reminiscent of gubernatorial candidate John Lindauer’s last appearance in front of the Alaska press in September 1998, just as his campaign began to quickly unravel.

This morning, the Tea Party Express announced it is holding off on starting its big ad campaign up here on Miller’s behalf. There may or may not be significance in that announcement.

Murkowski’s most recent report shows she’s holding about $1.2 million in her campaign chest at this point.

There will be more stories on this throughout Monday – and beyond. I’ll post updates in the comments section. I’ve got a busy day and evening, helping deal with aspects of two coal mining projects, one in the Mat-Su Valley, the other across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.

Meanwhile, feel free to learn more about Scott McAdams, the Democratic Party candidate in this race:

I posted this diary by my friend Mel Green this morning, on Scott’s speech Saturday at an LBGTQ conference.

Here’s Scott’s web page.